Appeals court confirms guilt of ex-Mississippi pastor convicted of sexual battery of 14-year-olds

Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Mississippi Court of Appeals has upheld the 2020 conviction of a former pastor on statutory rape and one count of sexual battery involving two 14-year-old girls, according to information from the court.

The Rev. Troy Anthony Piccaluga, 52, was convicted March 5, 2020, on the charges and sentenced by Circuit Judge Toni Walker Terrett to 50 years in prison.

Piccaluga, according to the court’s decision, appealed the verdict, claiming the trial judge erred by denying his motion to suppress a portion of his recorded interview with law enforcement, by allowing “repeated instances of improper prosecutorial comment,” by allowing the use of a transcript of a recorded telephone call and by permitting a lay witness to give improper opinion testimony.

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The judges found no reversible error and affirmed, or upheld, the verdict.

“We appreciate the ruling of the court,” District Attorney Ricky Smith said. “We had two young victims who were victimized by Piccaluga and had to wait until today to make sure that the case was finally concluded. They can rest easy now that the case has been affirmed by the court.”

Piccaluga is serving his sentence at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian his scheduled release date is in September 2069.

Piccaluga, then 48 and former pastor of the Eagle Lake and Redwood United Methodist churches, was arrested March 30, 2018, at his home in the Redwood community by Warren County sheriff’s deputies after an investigation into a complaint about a girl between the ages of 14 and 16 having a sexual relationship with an older man.

The second victim was discovered during the investigation into the initial complaint and he was initially charged with two counts of statutory rape and one count of sexual battery.

At the trial, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on one of the rape counts.

Piccaluga’s sentencing was originally set for March 27.

As the conviction was being announced during the trial, Piccauluga reportedly attempted suicide in the courtroom and was later placed on suicide watch while being held in the Warren County Jail, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

When the clerk was reading the guilty verdict in his earlier trial, Pace said, courtroom deputies saw Piccaluga, who was out on bond, “pull a handful of what appeared to be pills out of his pocket and take them.”

Piccaluga was taken to the Merit Health River Region emergency room, where he was treated and later released and booked into the Warren County Jail.

To read the full details of the court case and the appeal, click hereCONTENT WARNING: The link includes graphic information of a sexual nature. Reader discretion is advised.